University of Limerick
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A bird's eye view... resistance in academia

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journal contribution
posted on 2009-02-24, 12:22 authored by Pat O'ConnorPat O'Connor
This article deals with one sociologist's experience of gender inequality in the academy and examines different forms of resistance to it. Here, the author uses the concept of resistance to explore some of the ways faculty women respond to a situation of hierarchical and numerical male dominance. Focusing on faculty women within the hierarchical and numerically male dominated structures of academia, the author identifies seven types of resistance. It also compares the Irish trends as regards the proportion of women in academia to other countries. It is important to stress the methodological limitations of this paper. The author draws on personal observations of the position of faculty women in three of the five academic organisations in which she was employed at various times over the past 30 years (the early 1970s; the 1980s; and the 1990s respectively), initially as research assistant and more recently as professor. It thus can be seen as a personal account: there are 'no empirical findings in the positivist sense' (Lentin, 2000). Observations were not recorded systematically over the years and the possibility that they constitute a highly idiosyncratic perception of the academy cannot be eliminated. A focus on reflexivity and autobiography is part of an epistemological challenge to positivism (Lentin 1993 and 2000; Goode 1998) albeit one that has been viewed with considerable scepticism by many sociologists. Nevertheless, in a context where there are considerable sensitivities around the collection of qualitative data (because of the size of the country, the small number of academic institutions, and strong norms involving institutional loyalty) this approach is arguably an important source of insight.



Irish Journal of Sociology;Vol. 10/Issue 2/pp. 86-104


Sociological Association of Ireland





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